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re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @freakazoid @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @dazinism
Today in absolute condemnations of capitalism: " One problem with climate change is there's really no incentive to deal with it." This may be a hint.

re: [thread], pol 

@zeh
I don't care what kind of economic system you have, when people start to have difficulty putting food on the table, they're going to vote you out, and quality of life is unfortunately highly correlated with energy consumption.
@freakazoid @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @dazinism

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd
That makes no sense. You're mistaking your experience for what is possible, when the first is a tiny subset of the second. Voting inside "economic systems" that constrict your options to what is profitable is a travesty of freedom and there could be as many ways to live well as there are people, correlated to energy spending or not.

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @dazinism

re: [thread], pol 

@zeh @dazinism @Wolf480pl @freakazoid @cjd Even a socialist autarky uninterested in profit can easily run into situations where, if carbon taxation starts impacting quality of life for the masses (that is, it artificially causes scarcity that does not otherwise exist), they'll attempt to depose the government (whether it's democratic or not), unless you have effective suppression of information flow.

Which is why you need to make alternatives to carbon emission and make them attractive enough that quality of life doesn't degrade, or at least make it such that you can blame degradation on someone else.

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Interestingly enough, this seems to be something that entrepreneurship is fairly good at. I'm sure there are other ways to accomplish it, and entrepreneurship (at least when funded by intellectual property) is obviously bad at certain kinds of invention, like certain types of drugs and medical treatments, but nonprofit foundations seem to do the best job there, not government grants.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl I think there's a difference between R&D and deployment, though.

Private organizations do seem to be very good at throwing ideas at the wall and proving that they work... but getting them to the masses is extremely inefficient due to how capital allocation works in the private markets.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @Wolf480pl @cjd @dazinism @zeh (Just look at, say, Tesla as an example, and how rocky their ramp is. We know the technology works and can be cost-effective as fuck, at this point. The capital markets can't divorce that from the vagaries of a slow-building startup that isn't designed for an "exit". Meanwhile, China's state capitalism is subsidizing them massively (presumably partially to get access to their IP, but still) and in under a year they'll be from farmland in Shanghai, to a factory there. I don't think this is the *best* approach either, but it seems to work better than whatever we're doing in the west...)

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Tesla is an interesting example. Elon Musk has as much money as he does because of the factors I mentioned, but Tesla itself is in many ways a charity; VCs and angels would never have financed such an endeavor out of a profit motive. It's going to take a very long time to even come close to paying Musk back, much less making him more money than he's put in.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr And the current pattern of bringing new technologies to "early adopters", who tend to be wealthy, first means that those early adopters are the ones paying for the research. One can imagine ways to accelerate this process, but most new products that aren't just minor iterations on old ones end up failing, so most of the time you'd just make failure more costly in total.

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Making failure more costly is bad, because the process of invention is mostly a random search, so failure should be fast, cheap, and plentiful.

This is a major problem with the current way the markets are allocating capital. Uber has essentially been treated as if the investors are certain it will succeed if only it gets enough money and grows large enough.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr In a way this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because that money is getting spent on lobbying and driving competition out of the market. But it's also extremely costly, because to make an above-market return on their investment, the investors are betting on the irrational exuberance of the public after it IPOs.

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism IOW, their plan is to build this thing that looks like the "next Facebook" and dump it on the public. And the public will suck it up because with enough VC money almost any idea can be made to look good.

So raise interest rates, shift more money into debt financing which requires actual profits, and actual savings accounts (or treasuries and CDs), and make companies grow more slowly and fail more quickly.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr (Those latter things were consequences of raising interest rates, not additional actions that need to be taken.)

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Addressing the other points in your post, while it's true that we know the technology works, the problem is that we also know there are a bunch of alternative technologies that are likely to be even better, so going "all in" now has a decent chance of producing a worse outcome (possibly much worse) than an approach that puts the decisionmaking and risk in the same (preferably distributed) hands.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr In my view the best approach by far is to push *away* from the thing we know for sure is bad and let people decide on their own what they think the best alternative is. The best way to do that is with a carbon tax.

...

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism The problem is that you need to make alternatives accessible and available.

If carbon taxation pushes everything out of availability, and progressive redistribution of the carbon tax isn't sufficient (you need to watch for things like developers increasing close-in housing costs in response to carbon taxes purely because the market can bear it, too, as this hits lower income people the hardest), then you need to subsidize, which means you've gotta pick winners and losers.

Also, I'm not aware of any technologies that look more promising than battery-electrics for personal car-based transportation - yes, there's hydrogen, but that's been a fossil fuel industry boondoggle for decades.

Mass transit also needs to be subsidized in every case I've seen, and mass transit systems can't just be given to "the market" to decide, you have to actually choose something and do it.

And, really, we don't have time to wait for better technologies to come to fruition, we need to go all-in on mitigation *now*. We have eleven years. Once the crisis is resolved, we've got time to rethink things in better ways.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @Wolf480pl @cjd @dazinism @zeh (Also, to be clear, I'm not saying that personal electric cars are the answer. They're *an* answer that is palatable to a wide swath of the population, but that should be deployed alongside improvements for low-speed vehicle infrastructure for electric-assisted low-speed vehicles (bicycles and scooters being among them), as well as widespread mass transit with frequent service intervals.)

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism I agree that battery powered cars appear to be the best choice, for cars. What we don't know is what kind of battery or charging system is best. If we picked CCS chargers and lithium ion technology, we'd be stuck with a system where charging takes at least 10x as long as fueling. Long lines at charging stations, etc.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @cjd @zeh @Wolf480pl You also assume that once a car is in service, that's it.

*Especially* if you move away from the current American-style of consumerist capitalism, retrofits become practical.

Better batteries come along? Install them as retrofits when the batteries stop meeting peoples' needs.

CCS is too slow (although really it has lots of headroom beyond what the batteries can take now, and a lot of time spent charging is below the peak)? Retrofit a new connector and charge system.

And, focusing on those issues is also not considering that aggressive deployment of high speed electric rail greatly reduces the need for large amounts of energy on board private cars, or fast charging...

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @zeh @cjd @dazinism Retrofits are possible but costly with the car itself. Also with the charging system, though to a much lesser extent. Keeping cars for longer and primarily buying used and refurbished does let you amortize the cost of a retrofit over a longer period. Higher interest rates would push us toward that ;-)

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @cjd @Wolf480pl @bhtooefr
(untagging zeh since they've jumped off the thread)

HSR is a good target for investment because the technology is mature.The challenge is building it in such a way that it will actually be useful to people. California's project died because it would have been so expensive and slow it wouldn't have had any ridership, and it was politically infeasible to subsidize it sufficiently to fix the ticket price issue.

re: [thread], pol 

@bhtooefr @Wolf480pl @cjd @dazinism And that's almost certainly generous given that early estimates in such projects are always overly optimistic by a large margin. This is where centralizing certain powers helps a lot; it makes no sense for local communities or even counties to be able to block transportation projects that benefit the entire state.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid
@dazinism @bhtooefr
Thinking a bruit carbon tax without a functioning alternative risks becoming another way to extract money from the poor. Cigarette tax didn't (afaik) have a material impact on smoking, what did was advertising bans and labeling regulation. Unfortunately "don't burn gas" is more complicated than "don't smoke", people need to get to work, and many of them would much appreciate not being slaves to their car, but "transport on tap" needs to be solved.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @bhtooefr
Autonamous cars are a huge deal in this direction. Once the owners of cars become institutional and people pay for simple access, lots of problems become tractable:
* Businesses (unlike people) do behave as rational economic actors so even without carbon taxes, they will optimize for efficiency.
* If you can access a truck when needed, you don't need to buy one "just in case", you can go to work in a 1 seat car.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @bhtooefr
* If you don't have to figure out parking, taking a little car from your home to a train station and then taking the train to work becomes possible. You don't even get your suit wet in the pouring rain.

Emissions regulations have shown that if you push businesses, they do find creative solutions. Even without any carbon tax, EVs are interesting just because emissions control kit is becoming more and more expensive to produce...

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @dazinism @bhtooefr
And when you think about what is involved in owning a car, it's actually pretty shit. First you have to get your license, then you buy one:
* If it's new, you make payments and if you're fired from your job then it will be repossessed.
* If it's old then it might break down and if you can't get to work you'll be fired.
* If you don't have one or it doesn't run, you can't get a job.
I think people would *love* to move to an OPEX model.

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @bhtooefr @dazinism This is the exact vision behind Uber AFAICT, and it's pretty clear not needing to pay a driver makes the economics work, once we can make autonomous cars work (which I suspect will be longer than we think). Car ownership even in the suburbs will plummet as soon as the cost of ride services drops below TCO of a car. It already is for occasional use, but not for the daily commute.

re: [thread], pol 

@dazinism @bhtooefr @cjd Of course, reducing the cost of riding around in a small passenger vehicle will make mass transit all the more unattractive by comparison, which will increase traffic. Which is why I think we need to be careful about how it's deployed. The market-based approach would be congestion charges to encourage people to use the car to get to transit instead of straight to their destination.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid
@bhtooefr @dazinism
Mass transit will be cheaper, which will play into the thinking of many daily commuters. But mass transit also needs to be competitive. Living in France (carless in fact) I can tell you that the SNCF behaves just like any other monopoly. So I'm partial to vans, buses, and trains indeed, but there needs to be choice.

re: [thread], pol 

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @dazinism
Also if one of these smart companies can figure out how to remove all of the friction of moving from a car to a bus or train with shopping bags and 3 kids, they can offer a "car ride" on train infrastructure and pocket the difference...

re: [thread], pol 

@cjd @dazinism @bhtooefr This seems to describe Personal Rapid Transit pretty closely. And PRT works even without autonomous cars, though it doesn't solve the issues associating with owning cars, parking, etc. With autonomous cars, the main advantage the PRT "tracks" provide is allowing for much smaller batteries and less charging infrastructure and providing a dedicated lane for AVs "automatically".

...

@clacke @cjd @freakazoid @dazinism PRT == automated guideway transit with small vehicles. The vehicles are summoned at stations, the guideways are closed to everything but those small vehicles. There’s been fully-automated PRT systems in service since the 1970s at least. Higher infrastructure cost to deploy, but it can be done with technology that demonstrably 100% works today.

“Autonomous vehicles” means autonomous cars on the roads, a much much much harder problem to solve, but using existing infrastructure.

@bhtooefr @cjd @freakazoid @dazinism Right, PRT implies rails or something close to rails. Is there any point to non-autonomous PRT today then?

@clacke @cjd @freakazoid @dazinism The “PRT vs. AV” debate being posed in this thread isn’t between a hypothetical “non-autonomous PRT” and autonomous PRT, it’s between autonomous PRT and autonomous cars on roads.

@bhtooefr @cjd @clacke @dazinism I was thinking of PRT systems where the cars could be driven on roads as well, which solves the last mile problem. I can't find mention of such an option on the Wikipedia page, so maybe it wasn't as common a proposal as I'd thought. That's why I was thinking about the combination of the two technologies.

...

@dazinism @clacke @cjd @bhtooefr PRT seems like it could potentially deliver on the failed promise of monorails: cheap elevated guideways. Monorails are big and you can't walk on the guideways, so being able to evacuate means you need a lot of ladders or walkways along the side, so the infrastructure is not much cheaper. With PRT you could potentially climb over or around the cars and walk on the guideway, just like on an elevated freeway.

@bhtooefr @cjd @clacke @dazinism That means you can have a guideway that's barely larger than a pair of cars and space the emergency ladders/stairs farther apart, assuming elevated guideways, which I think is usually what you want.

Though there is a huge advantage to sharing infrastructure even with dedicated lanes, since you can just expand as you cut into normal car travel.

@dazinism @clacke @cjd @bhtooefr (There are also structural reasons monorail tracks are expensive, and the vehicles are more expensive. So the only real advantage is noise because they run on pneumatic tires, but there are lots of different guideway and vehicle configurations that can use pneumatic tires.)

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@freakazoid @bhtooefr @clacke @dazinism
My personal opinion is that we need a new "interface" which is neither butt-on-seat nor rubber-on-pavement. Some interface between a transport pod which carries passengers or cargo and the car/train/boat/mag-lev/hyperloop which carries it, then a sort of router which switches pods on and off of different transport. This would change the economics of running (for ex) a train line, because it can directly pull commuters off of a road.

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@cjd @dazinism @clacke @bhtooefr We already have such an interface, and it's cheap as hell. It's called a cargo container. There is also some kind of system that allows attaching those to trailers, but I don't know how standardized it is given that I see trailers loaded directly on flatbed train cars a lot.

@freakazoid @bhtooefr @clacke @dazinism
Now it just needs to be fast enough and safe enough that people will sit inside of them while they're being transported.

@bhtooefr @clacke @dazinism @cjd It is probably possible to design a fully-automated loading and unloading system that could load cars onto special "sleds". The main drawbacks would be that you're unnecessarily transporting the car's power plant and undercarriage, and the sleds and loading system would be expensive compared to just driving a special car onto a guideway.

@cjd @dazinism @clacke @bhtooefr Actually, now that I think of it, adding hardware to current electric cars to let them run autonomously and receive power from a guideway would be damn cheap. Just a lowerable doodad underneath with a pair of brushes and an interface to a bus that signals over the power lines. Linking the cars together could be optional, but that linkage could provide redundancy in case of gunk on the guideway conductors.

@bhtooefr @clacke @dazinism @cjd Alternatively you just have two doodads (trolleys?) that connect to the center guide.

You'd probably want the guide to be T-shaped to make it hard to touch both sides if someone needs to walk on the guideway. Unlike the "third rail" or overhead line in an AC system, I think HVDC is safe if you only touch either conductor, since neither would be grounded.

@cjd @dazinism @clacke @bhtooefr Rather than using cameras or sensors on each car, the guideway could use cameras all along it. No radar is necessary, and the processors could be local and connected in a daisy-chain fashion with wireless long-range links to bridge any failed wired connections or control units. You'd have 3 control units per cell, maybe just by overlapping them with the next and previous.

@freakazoid @dazinism @clacke @bhtooefr
The idea would be to split the part with the passengers, HVAC, stereo, etc from the part with the powerplant, wheels, etc. Of course it's carrying more than you have to carry if everybody's on a bus, but my opinion is if your transportation network can't be used to transport an ambulence, it's not complete.

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